Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mr. C. Thanks For The Prompt Reply.

Honestly, I didn’t expect it quite so quickly, but then, the truth will out, because the truth does have a nasty habit of bobbing to the surface.

My-oh-my, it was a surprise though, to see it answered so honestly.

I asked David Cameron a question the other day; I’ve now had my reply, even if indirectly delivered through the UK media. At least in a "here’s your answer, now you go figure it all out you silly wee wummin" type of format, at any rate that’s how it was presented in the press today.

Actually, I'm not so crazy as to think it was just my reply and it was only a partial answer, but he might have just as well shouted it from the rooftops. It was the response to the NHS question and it states very, very clearly, we’re about to lose our own Scottish NHS.

I'm talking about the English backlash in all the papers today, the one where there is a demand that we get our spending cut to a UK average, or even less, if that’s what Westminster decides. They’re saying £1,400 a head. This equals around £7.2 billion – allow me to write that out in full; £7,200,000,000. That’s cuts like you've never seen before. Oh, they’ll be staged allowing time for progressive charging to creep in, health insurance to slowly become a requirement and acceptable. You know how Westminster works; the death of a thousand little cuts. Except this time there’ll be over 7 billion little cuts.

Now, let’s remember where broadcasting is reserved to, especially after seeing ‘Better Together’ ads on the BBC (as a child, I really did believe it was supposed to be neutral and impartial, a great institution. That’s just another of those young beliefs shattered I suppose, consigned to the same afterlife as the tooth fairy). Anyway, remembering that broadcasting is reserved, we know who they’re supporting, and it isn’t ordinary folks.

This ‘newly revealed’ backlash is not particularly new; in fact it’s actually been (sometimes not so) subtly covered for a number of years now. England has forever been awash with images of the drunken Scot, belligerently whingeing for a handout. Meanwhile, they studiously ignore the fact that we put in far more than they do, more than we ever see back, which absolutely can’t be said for England.

Accordingly, akin to the Indy Ref, when you give folks half-truths, half the information and facts such as ‘they get more than you, is that fair’, of course the answer’s ‘NO’. It’s the same logic they’re using to try to get a ‘NO’ vote in Scotland, and sadly, some of my fellow Scots, reliant on a diet of Westminster propaganda, will vote that way, simply because like the English population demanding our budget be cut, they simply don’t know any better. Wonderfully subtle state propaganda, isn’t it?

Now, had these same English residents been given the full facts instead of Westminster propaganda i.e., the Scots actually pay far more into the system - much more. In reality, 2010/2011 tax receipts were £10,700 per person for Scotland, as opposed to an average of £9000 per person for the rUK. Had these same residents been made aware that these excess taxes are possibly paying a percentage towards England’s PFI contracts on hospitals and schools; wouldn't they be more amenable to the idea that it is only fair the Scots receive slightly more back than residents in rUK? Would there still be this hue and cry in England?

I suspect that not. The vast majority of English are reasonable folks, they’d be reasonably happy with that arrangement, if not downright tickled pink.

Sadly though, supplying the information at this juncture won’t work, because south of the border Scotland has been demonised in both popular culture and the popular press for far too long. The BBC is largely responsible, and the BBC is a reserved arm of Westminster. I can say that, because it’s been done at all levels, from the portrayal of Scots in newsprint to even one of my favourite old Beeb comedy shows like Black Adder; cringe worthy depictions of red-headed, tartan-bobble-hatted, be-kilted savage Scot, my people. Perhaps that’s why many suffer a Scottish cringe?

Anyway, it’s largely irrelevant now. What is relevant though is that the poll on attitudes showed upwards of a three to one majority of ‘realigning’ spending, as in cutting our budget. In reality, people who have done their research know this poll is based on half truths, innuendoes and lies. However, just like the ‘NO Voter’ in the upcoming referendum, it is what they truly believe; because they base their opinion upon the information they've been spoon fed. That makes it very real.

Furthermore, this also makes it very real to the politicians in Westminster; real and actionable. They do, after all, look upon us as ‘one country’, not four countries voluntarily making up one state. So when three of four who voice an opinion tell them to act, and it’s an action they want to take anyway, they pretty much now have to be seen to be doing something. We can bet the English press will report one set of promises, their Scottish editions will report it another way.

That means if the hoodwink holds enough of our people until September 19th, then within a very short time we can expect to see an ‘adjustment in our allowance’ of some 7 billion quid. It’s not going to be an upwards adjustment either.

If the hoodwink holds, that seven billion, and by government figures would mean one of two things if applied to us; it’d mean shutting down every hospital in Scotland, with every GP Practice or making you pay for them by forcing you to buy private insurance. It means that, or finding the money some-place else.

The problem being, there isn’t any some-place else. Since any extra Holyrood extracts from us will be deducted from what Westminster gives them.

I have recently spoken with a nurse taking a position in England. I asked if her contract was with the NHS, a health board, or a private company. You’d think that’s an easy enough question. Not in England, not today. She’ll be in an NHS uniform though, for now.

So, Mr. Cameron thanks for my answer, although I know you didn’t just decide to give it to me directly. I know your methods, and how you use the media. First they ‘uncover a story’ and engender disbelief, that disbelief turns to outrage, and as with our poor, our disabled, our sick and our immigrants, outrage begets anger and demonisation, which in turn gives support for the actions you intended anyway. It’s a bit like Putin invading his neighbours.

You want me to keep a system of healthcare, the future of which is to be modelled on the US, where a simple Caesarian Section can cost up to $25,000. You’re seriously asking me to vote for that?

Well, having had your response Mr. Cameron, I’ll give you mine. I’ll just say ‘No Thanks’ on the 18th, but I’ll say ‘YES’ to trusting my neighbours and country. You see, what you've threatened if we vote yes, while worrisome, isn’t really very scary. Not when it’s put beside what you're promising to do if I say ‘No Thanks’. The consequences of No means you’ll really have the power to make it happen, and me? Well, I’ll no longer have a finger to point, will I?

Monday, 18 August 2014

An Open Letter To An Unapproachable Prime Minister.

Dear Mr. Cameron, 

I hope that you will take the time to read this, that it finds its way into your hands. You see, I’d like just three questions answered, and if you can answer them to my satisfaction, I’ll really might consider a ‘No’ vote.

My first question concerns the currency bit. 
You see, the media, much of whom I believe you effectively control (well, your lot in Westminster did ‘reserve’ broadcasting after all) are pounding on about this currency thing. Now, allowing broadcasting is reserved to you, they are delivering your message, which makes me curious. 

My question specifically about the currency bit is, well, why should I care?

Now, let me tell you why I'm asking that. You see, for me to care about something, it has to have some sort of value and since about 1930, under Westminster’s stewardship, the pound has steadily devalued to the point where it’s not really worth much at all, not any more. It was $5 to the pound back in 1930. Mind you, the dollar’s devalued too, but the pound’s gone downhill at twice that rate, which isn’t very good testimony to Westminster’s handling of the currency in my pocket. 
With the best predictor of future behaviour being the proven record of the past, you might have to work hard to convince me you won’t keep up that stealth tax called Inflation. We all know inflation is just a way of hiding mismanaged economies. So, to be clear, do you, or do you not want me to vote for ongoing economic mismanagement?

In view of the last three centuries, I’d love to hear your plans for fixing things as we go forward. Don’t worry, I know I can’t hold you to any promise, but I’d like to hear anyway?

That brings me to my second question; it’s about management too. Most specifically, of your responsibilities to those who elect you. Let’s look at the NHS in England for a minute. 
In 2012 you passed a law effectively repealing the 1947 act which Bevin brought forward, guaranteeing universal medical care, free at the point of service. There wasn't a referendum, there was no vote, it wasn't in a manifesto, but your coalition just did it anyway. 
To all intents and purposes, my family and friends in England don’t have the right to be seen by a physician. I know you say they do, but the legal right to receive care has been removed with much of the privatisation that’s going on down there.

I'm fairly certain you know that most folk aren't aware of the changes, mostly because of your stealth privatisation we are now at the point where global companies currently run much of what was England’s NHS. I say “what was”, because although they still look like the NHS staff to the patients, with NHS badges and all, we really know who they work for, and it’s not the NHS. So, this question is a ‘two-parter’ on health care.

The first part is, why did you remove the government’s statutory requirement to provide care?

The second part of the question is, in the event of a "No" vote will Scotland still be in a position to keep her NHS in its current format or will your austerity program force changes there too and allow private health-care companies take over our hospitals and GP surgeries?

Oops! There’s me crossing back to my first question; managing, or mismanaging the money. Thinking about the NHS, perhaps if you had cared (really cared) about Sterling, maybe the money would have been available to maintain England’s public health-care system? But you promised in your manifesto the "NHS Was Safe In Conservative Hands"! Seems we should have tried to force you to keep your word.

Keeping your word, sort of leads into my third question. You see, I know you can lie; your Coalition can even sign pledges to get votes and then blame it on the ‘bad boy’s down at the swings’ while you go off and do the exact opposite, e.g. Student Loans.

Personally, I think that’s because we don't have a written constitution and this is an area where we are virtually alone amongst developed nations. There is nothing guaranteeing anyone any rights, except Parliamentarians, and it seems to me like they’re pretty much always ‘all right’.

Now, you've said we don’t need a constitution down London way. Really? While you quietly privatise, demonise, demoralise and devalue much of what "The British" way of life was. 
Nevertheless, I have to disagree and ask you for a constitution. 

I fully understand I'm getting the offer to have my say in the referendum. Now, if my rights are enshrined and then protected for the future generations then "my say" won’t stop after the referendum. I don't know if you noticed, but we have been promised a written constitution following a "Yes" vote. That means we can (if we wish) petition to have public healthcare as a right or to have our own mail service or even recall bad governments and outlaw lobbying. 
I don't expect we'd get all of our desires, but the American’s (whom you apparently greatly admire) have a fabulous saying you may have heard; "no taxation without representation". They get to vote on almost everything. I would like that, but I know I can’t ever get it under the present Westminster system. Tell me why you won’t enshrine our rights. Unless the reality is that we truly haven’t got any; just what London deigns to allow on any given day. 

Will you promise to clarify and then enshrine our rights?

So, there you go, my three questions. Sadly, I'm expecting if you do read this, you’ll just say ‘No Thanks’ to answering any of them, since nobody can force you, even though you’re officially employed by each and every one of us. In fact, y
ou and your fellow parliamentarians seem to prefer to keep a system where you’re better together; it’s one where London meddling seems to know no borders either. 
I'm just about finished but simply out of devilment, I’ll sneak in a last question. Why is it that when everybody agreed this referendum was for the Scots alone to decide, is one side funded almost entirely by donations appearing from Tory millionaires living outwith Scotland. Oh, sorry about that - sort of slipped my mind a bit; nobody has the power to enforce you to keep your word - or answer our questions, do they?

Now, please, convince me why I should vote for you, because, after all, that’s what a "No" vote is, isn’t it? It’s nothing less than a vote for the current unrepresentative system and the current leader; and that’d be yourself Mr. Cameron - and your likes.


Yours Sincerely,

Hazel Lewry.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The choreographed debate – Union style.

I've watched and re-watched that first referendum debate, and the more I do, the more I understand. It wasn't really a debate at all. It was a set up; a set up by irrelevant participants (Mr. A. Darling and Better Together audience plants 1 2) designed to hamper rather than enhance knowledge.

I can say that because as it unfolded, I watched the focus slide unerringly to the fiscal aspect, not surprisingly as it’s what many of us need answers on, or so the Union’s organizers’ would have us believe.

In actuality, it was a debate designed from the outset to hammer Alex Salmond and ‘his pet project’. I'm not even certain Bernard Ponsonby was aware of the facts, though it’s hard to see how he’d be ignorant of them. Ponsonby did give Darling, which appeared well anticipated, a few hard shoves but failed to use the debate to move issues and educate. As such, Bernie very much ‘shot his bolt’.

I'm taking that position as it was clear while it unfolded the script like the wrestling results of the ‘70’s, had already been drafted for release by the UK’s media the following day; they just needed to insert quote A into line B.

To any half-witted idiot it became clear before half time that it would be a twofold prong, currency and how ‘Darling won the debate’ after studiously selling ‘their guy’ low. Alistair Darling came across to me more as a renegade guest from the Jerry Springer show, not as a serious debater, although he did raise a few valid questions. He’d obviously been ‘coached’ to interrupt, shout, talk over and negate in any way possible what his ‘opponent’ had been saying. If he wasn't coached into behaving as he did, then in my mind he’s got the decorum and manners of a pig. In civilised debate, both sides get to make their points in allocated time frames, and without interruption.

Now, about those points. My, oh my, about those points.

Firstly, the currency issue. There really wasn't any reason for either of those blokes to be there last night, you see, the white paper told us what ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ are, and they’re not changing. We’ll use the pound like Ireland and a host of other’s, and we’ll do it unofficially or by preference, officially by treaty. Now, that makes life throw up another few questions, because if we were so clearly laying plan A and plan B on the table, why the screaming heebies the next day, unless the maps had already been drawn and the course charted. Where Ponsonby lost and STV shot its credibility out the window was when they didn’t make this clear.

Now, there’s the 'retirement thing', which was a more minor string on the fiddle of the sonnet to be released the following day. Both sides have agreed that everybody alive today who’s already a UK citizen will continue to have that right to a UK pension. Oddly, Chemical Ali (because he must've used some serious alchemy to arrive at his viewpoint) made it clear that as pensions are supported by those currently working, there’d need to be an agreement, and this would be part of any ‘future negotiation’. In anybody’s book, that’s a nice little addendum to ‘project fear’.

The truth of the Pension’s issue is simple, if you paid in, you get out. Westminster just has to figure out how to keep paying what are close to Europe’s worst pensions to some of Europe’s most deserving and long suffering pensioners. Westminster has to do this because there’s no real way to not do it. Do they enact a law saying you have to live in the rump state, England/Wales/NI? Then what about freedom of movement and all those ex-pats living all over the world. They’ll be coming home, and they’ll be needing cared for. What’s left of the UK neither needs nor wants that burden. What about English in Scotland, do they get a pension? How about one Scot’s parent? How about a Scotswoman married to an Englishman and living in Spain?

The pension issue is smoke and mirrors, no question about it, because any government in Westminster which dumped its pensioners would likely be out on its ear in short order. Or it would if there was such a mechanism. Do I really want to live in country without such a mechanism? We could implement such a right to recall wayward governments and officials in iScotland's new constitution.

Either way, Ponsonby and ITV lost credibility, because at the day’s end, no matter how I've looked at these issues, and what nobody wrote into any of the pre-ordained press releases was this; it all boils down to just three things on both main planks of that debate.

Firstly, we’re being blackmailed in a most horrible, spiteful way, and it’s being done by a bunch of idiots at Westminster who don’t give an actual low flying turd about their own constituents. I have to ask myself, am I in favour of that? Do I support these Bullingdon Bullies.

Sorry guys, it’s your slogan, but it’s ideal here, I’ve got to say ‘no thanks’

Secondly, I'm (still) being told Scotland’s a basket case, an economic basket case that is just too small to manage itself properly. I’ll admit to my jaw almost hitting the coffee table when one audience participant said London had more folk than Scotland, so how could Scotland possibly survive ‘alone’. I smiled incredulously; this bloke get’s to vote? I don’t see Norway, Switzerland or Luxembourg asking Davie lad to let them snuggle under his wing because they’re ‘just too wee’, or Nicky Clegg tabling a motion to devolve all sovereignty to the US, Russia or China? If we’re such a basket case, why fight to keep us? If we can’t afford pensions, the NHS, a banking system that plays fast and loose (we really want that?) and various phallic substitutes, er, sorry, nukes. Something just doesn't ring true here.

Let’s just assume for a second that what’s being conveyed here is a fact, then the only possible conclusion is that for three centuries Scotland’s been so utterly mismanaged, exploited and under-invested by successive London governments, governments who know our vote really means nowt; that they’re happy to continue to pillage and strip rather than invest and encourage.

Sorry guys, again, got to say ‘no thanks’

The third possibility, the one I'm betting on is that we've just been lied to all along. You see, I’ve done my research, unlike ‘Mr. too small’, that being the case, again, I’ve got to say again, ‘no thanks’.

Bernie, and our so trustworthy media, could easily have pointed out that what we really had the other night was a choice. We have a choice to go our own way, or opt for the fearmongering, asset stripping liars.

We do have a choice. We have a choice to watch the next debate, to see where Chemical Ali is allowed to work his alchemical skills of wonder; which one or two areas will be the highlight of his interruptions and shouty, ill mannered focus, then we can watch the media reaction the next day, and smile.

After September 18th we can decide we’ll never have to watch the like again, because we know with absolute certainty that the ones from the Bullingdon Club in London, those mired in corruption and scandal, they’re the only ones until September 18th who are worth being in the debating chair, because they’re the only ones with the power to answer our questions, like the ones for the EU and NATO, and they’re the only ones who can clarify this debate.

Except, we already know they won’t do that. They won’t give me what I need, yet they still want me to endorse them, they want me to say ‘no thanks’.

Fine, then I will, on September 18th I’ll say ‘no thanks’; no thanks to the lies, the misinformation, the half truths, the innuendoes and scare tactics, and I’ll watch us walk away from this disreputable shambles called Westminster.

Yes, it might be to an uncertain future, but it’s a future filled with potential and possibility, and I dream of being a part of it. If we don’t grasp the thistle, we know we’ll get stung for more lies, more official secrets, more obfuscation, more stripped rights and we’ll lose more of our cherished values.

Yes. Give me that uncertainty, because it really can’t be worse that what London’s offering, and in less than a generation, if we decide, it can be so, so much more.

You know what? I trust my fellow Scots to make the right decisions, now, and as we walk forward. September 19th will tell us all if we’re a confident nation.


1: Craig Murray's Blog concerning the debate
2: STV Rigging Audiences?

A reply to the celebs letter from Steven McBrien of Glasgow.

This is so well written and says everything that any one of us would have wished to have said to these people, given the opportunity. So much so, in fact, that I just had to re-blog it. My thanks to Steven McBrien for this great piece of writing:


Dear William Dalrymple, Eddie Izzard, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Mick Jagger, Jenny Agutter, Sir Ben Ainslie, Kriss Akabusi, Roger Allam, Kirstie Allsop, Alexander Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Steve Backley, Baroness Joan Bakewell, Frances Barber, Andy Barrow, John Barrowman, Mike Batt, Glen Baxter, David Aaronovitch, Helena Bonham-Carter, Stanley Baxter, Martin Bayfield, Mary Beard, Sarah Beeny, Anthony Beevor, Angelica Bell,Dickie Bird, Cilla Black, Graeme Black, Roger Black, Malorie Blackman, Ranjit Bolt, Alain de Botton, William Boyd, Tracey Brabin, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Jo Brand, Gyles Brandreth, Rob Brydon, Louisa Buck, Simon Callow, Will Carling, Paul Cartledge, Guy Chambers, Nick Cohen, Michelle Collins, Colonel Tim Collins, Olivia Colman, Charlie Condou, Susannah Constantine, Steve Coogan, Dominic Cooper, Ronnie Corbett, Simon Cowell, Jason Cowley, Sara Cox, Amanda Craig, Steve Cram, Richard Curtis, Tom Daley, Richard Dawkins, Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Deller, Lord Michael Dobbs, Jimmy Doherty, Michael Douglas, Simon Easterby, Gareth Edwards, Jonathan Edwards, Tracey Emin, Sebastian Faulks, Bryan Ferry, Ranulph Fiennes, Ben Fogle, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Amanda Foreman, Neil Fox, Emma Freud, Bernard Gallacher, Kirsty Gallacher, George Galloway, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bamber Gascoigne, David Gilmour, Harvey Goldsmith, David Goodhart, Lachlan Goudie, David Gower, AC Grayling, Will Greenwood, Tamsin Greig, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Lord Charles Guthrie, Haydn Gwynne, Maggi Hambling, Mehdi Hasan, Sir Max Hastings, Peter Hennessy, James Holland, Tom Holland, Tom Hollander, Gloria Hunniford, Conn Iggledun, John Illsley, Brendan Ingle, Betty Jackson, Sir Mike Jackson, Howard Jacobson, Baroness PD James, Griff Rhys Jones, Terry Jones, Christopher Kane, Sir Anish Kapoor, Ross Kemp, Paul Kenny, Jemima Khan, India Knight, Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Tory Lawrence, Kathy Lette, Rod Liddle, Louise Linton, John Lloyd (the journalist), John Lloyd ( the producer), Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gabby Logan, Kenny Logan, Sarah Lucas, Dame Vera Lynn, James May, Margaret MacMillan, Stephen Mangan, Davina McCall, Sir Ian McGeechan, Heather McGregor, Andy McNab, John Michie, David Mitchell, Lord John Monks, Lewis Moody, Michael Morpurgo, Bill Morris, David Morrissey, Philip Mould, Al Murray, Neil Stuke, Sir Paul Nurse, Andy Nyman, Peter Oborne, Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips, Andy Puddicombe, Lord David Puttnam, Anita Rani, Esther Rantzen, Sir Steve Redgrave, Derek Redmond, Pete Reed, Lord Martin Rees, Peter Reid, Baroness Ruth Rendell, Sir Cliff Richard, Hugo Rifkind, Sir Tony Robinson, David Rowntree, Ian Rush, Greg Rutherford, CJ Sansom, June Sarpong, Simon Schama, John Sessions, Sandie Shaw, Helen Skelton, Sir Tim Smit, Dan Snow, Peter Snow, Phil Spencer, David Starkey, Lord Jock Stirrup, Neil Stuke, Sting, Tallia Storm, David Suchet, Alan Sugar, Graeme Swann, Stella Tennant, Daley Thompson, Alan Titchmarsh, James Timpson, Kevin Toolis, Lynne Truss, Gavin Turk, Roger Uttley, David Walliams, Zoë Wanamaker, Robert Webb, Richard Wentworth, Sir Alan West, Dominic West and Kevin Whateley,

I would like to express my hearty and sincere thanks to you all for your stated concern that myself and my countrymen remain in the United Kingdom. I was just heading back from my job (the job where I earn under eight quid an hour for working with people with learning disabilities) and passing the local food bank when I heard the news, namely, that you were so concerned that we might leave the UK that you had all deigned to write your names on a piece of paper.

I was delighted to hear this news, so transported, in fact, that I temporarily forgot about the nuclear stockpile that's a mere 25 miles away from my front door, and so giddy with the receipt of this beneficence that I almost forgot that I could spend my remaining English tenners up here as no-one up here has any kind of problem with accepting English money. I write to inform you all that the fact that a bunch of millionaires and multi-millionaires who have, on the whole, exhibited total disinterest, and, in some cases (Mr Curtis, Mr Starkey) outright contempt for my country, its denizens and its history were so thoughtful as to sign a piece of paper has forced me to totally review my lifelong pro-independence stance.

I realise and understand completely that you all probably know more about the situation in Scotland than the people of Scotland do; after all, you're all really famous, and we're none too bright up here, you know, apart from inventing television, the refrigerator, canals, bicycles, chloroform, fingerprinting, animal cloning, fax machines, microwaves and magnetrons, adhesive postage stamps, tubular steel, pneumatic tyres, radar, propellers, ATM machines and PIN codes, the telephone, the condensing steam engine, tarmac, penning such unremarkable gewgaws as Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and Jekyll and Hyde, discovering penicillin, founding the US Navy, establishing Universal Standard Time, adumbrating the Rankine Thermodynamic Cycle, establishing the foundation of modern economics thanks to Adam Smith, abetting in the foundation of sociology as a modern science thanks to Adam Ferguson, discovering the nearest star to our sun, Proxima Centauri, discovering and linking the Noble Gases, establishing the Kelvin unit of temperature, inventing MRI machines, discovering the vaccine for typhoid, helping to establish general anaesthetic in medical procedure, inventing the electric clock in 1840 and the flush-toilet in 1775, devising the foundations of the Bank of England and the Bank of France, taking the world's first ever colour photograph, and various other trifles. We really do need to be reminded that these are mere dilettante efforts; governing ourselves is an entirely different matter. As the good folks at Better Together have told us on numerous occasions, we, alone among the nations of the planet Earth, and despite abundant-to-the-point-of-overwhelming evidence to the contrary, will not be capable of this.

On that note, I should like to take a few lines to address the Better Together campaign now, as you have all, through your signing of this hallowed document, tacitly aligned your good selves with the efforts of that noble organisation. Despite what you may have heard, Better Together have, throughout the last few years, been a shining example of truth-telling and reassurance. Those accusations, slung by those vicious people who state facts, that their campaign has been nothing more than a random farrago of shrill, terror-inducing and panic-peddling doomsday prophecies, saturated throughout with slander, half-truths, quarter-truths, outright lies and an irrelevant hate-obsession with one man, are, as I now see, totally exaggerated. They were right all along. The debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond (yes, that debate, the debate that was described by pundits as one of the most important debates in modern political history, but which you probably didn't even see, because it wasn't televised in England, thanks to the equally unbiased British media) showed us all that modern UK politics is in rude health, with three main parties who should be occupying totally different strata of the political spectrum uniting as one to remind us that Alex Salmond is nothing less than the devil in pudgy form and that we are inherently incapable of governing ourselves, before, in a coup de grace, offering to give us as a nation more powers if we as a nation refuse more powers. They are simply a beacon of logic and compassion. I should also like to take this opportunity to thank the BBC, who unthinkingly took time out from their busy schedule of covering up the sundry paedophiles and abusers of vulnerable adults who were protected and celebrated by them to alternately ignore us completely/refuse to broadcast facts/remind us up here that we don't matter.

As for having some of the finest exports on Earth, we are fully cognisant that this will not help. And the oil? We'll just follow Westminster's lead and shut up about the oil, and the possibility of joining the rest of the world in actually setting up an oil fund if we got independence, as we don't want to annoy anyone. Besides it doesn't matter: we don't want independence anyway, because we can't do it.

We should also be reminded that a constitution that is increasingly alone among the nations of the civilised world in never having been drawn up or cohesively codified (with the result that if I were a practicing rather than a lapsed Catholic, I could not be Prime Minister, and if I were to go out walking to an archery contest in York clutching a bow and arrow, it would be perfectly legal to kill me) is the way to go in terms of governance, that Martin Luther King and the rest of them were just kidding about all women and men being equal and deserving an equal chance, when in fact, the Royal Family is inherently better than the rest of us because their ancestors chopped people up really effectively. That must be why so many of you have taken knighthoods, damehoods, lordships and peerages. Yes, that explains it. You are all such enlightened and selfless individuals, there is clearly nothing you wouldn't sacrifice to defend your Kingdom; to the extent that, in some cases, such as that of Sir Tony Robinson, you have even been willing to sacrifice your own principles to defend it.

The financial system of the United Kingdom that you defend so valiantly, you know, that one were the banks and corporations do whatever they want and pay their executives outrageous salaries only to be bailed out by the taxpayer when the inevitable bust comes along, the one that enriches the obscenely rich while enslaving the vast majority of the population, is the envy of the world. This, in turn, must account for the shocking appearance, in one or two cases, of signatories of this document who are not in fact millionaires, living in ivory towers and totally divorced from the reality that most people have to live. Once again, I commend you all for making me see sense.

I am certain that the Prime Minister (you know, the millionaire who went to Eton along with half of the previous cabinet; that man whom myself and my entire country didn't vote for, as we so ignorantly revile both his party and his policies) will salute you all for your efforts. You've certainly persuaded me. I'll vote for the UK, with its pro-Israel stance, and totally ignore the suffering of the people in Gaza, too. It's for the best, really. As for foreign affairs, well, it's demonstrably obvious that the best way to conduct them is with a horde of nukes at your back, and that the surest way to preserve world peace is with an array of weapons that could only ever be deployed militarily in some kind of nightmarish endgame scenario, but which nevertheless cost billions a year to maintain and store, even while public service budgets are ruthlessly slashed. Why didn't I see this before? I genuinely feel like the writer of Amazing Grace.

I'd like, finally, to take this opportunity to highlight, and indeed, laud, certain signatories of this document who I feel have made an undeniable contribution to twenty-first century art, science and high culture, namely Messrs Armstrong, Barrowman, Bragg, Brydon, Ms Cox, Messrs Cowell, Dawkins, Galloway, Izzard, Ms McCall, Messrs Mitchell, Richard, Robinson, Miss Sarpong, Messrs Starkey, Sting, Sugar, Titchmarsh, Walliams and Webb. You are all deeply talented and necessary individuals, and I thank you all from the bottom of my bowels for descending temporarily from on-high to appeal to scum like me to see sense and vote No.

Thank you all for affording me this opportunity to tell you all how wonderfully wonderful I think you are,

Yours obsequiously,

McB

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Big Currency Bash.

Well, it's been hot news since Gideon laid his cards flatly and squarely on the table. The Scots and their Nation are second-class citizens of Planet Earth when it comes to currency sharing. And while I don't normally re-blog items, I saw this post pertaining to the stramash on "who can do what with a pound" while on Facebook today, and thought it was worth the reposting. 

Thanks to Mairie NicIllemhoire and Ken Potter for all the information:

"I'm not in favour of the Euro as our currency post-indy, but nonetheless, I found it very interesting to discover that there are several non-EU members who use the Euro as their currency, namely: Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, and Vatican City.

With regards to sterling, the current list of official users (plus secondary currencies, in brackets) are:

United Kingdom,
British Antarctic Territory,
Falkland Islands (alongside Falkland Islands pound),
Gibraltar (alongside Gibraltar pound),
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (Tristan da Cunha; alongside Saint Helena pound in Saint Helena and Ascension),
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (alongside Falkland Islands pound),
British Indian Ocean Territory (de jure, US Dollar used de facto),
Guernsey (local issue: Guernsey pound),
Isle of Man (local issue: Manx pound),
Jersey (local issue: Jersey pound).

Apart from these OFFICIAL users of the pound sterling, there are the following places using sterling unofficially:
Uganda,
Zimbabwe,
Zambia,
Sierra Leone,
Tanzania,
Rwanda,
Malawi,
Botswana,
plus the Pakistani city of Mirpur in Kashmir.

Historically.
After becoming independent, Ireland continued to use the Saorstát pound (Irish Punt), which remained pegged with sterling until she joined the European Monetary System in 1978, whilst the UK remained out. Other areas of the, now defunct, Empire have also used sterling in the past - the gold sovereign was legal tender in Canada despite the use of the Canadian dollar.

Several colonies and dominions adopted the pound as their own currency. These included Australia, Barbados, British West Africa, Cyprus, Fiji, the Irish Free State, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Some of these retained parity with sterling throughout their existence (e.g. the South African pound), whilst others deviated from parity after the end of the gold standard (e.g. the Australian pound).

At this point, I'm thinking that someone needs to put this to Better Together, and ask 2 salient questions: 


1) Just exactly WHAT makes Scotland different from any and all of these other places?
 
2) Name one place that has ever been refused the use of sterling. Just one!"


It will be interesting to hear if they've got an answer to either of those questions. 

As we approach the referendum, the output of scaremongering dross from the Unionist side is building to a torrent . But just how much more will the people in Scotland take and how much of it is now being seen for what it truly is - utter nonsense? 
I get the feeling that Westminster forgets even the humble Scot has access to the internet where any amount of information is available and these pronouncements can be checked and double-checked and seen for the misinformation they are.

Meanwhile, on the rest of the planet, the thought of an independent Scotland with a Scottish Pound appears to be perfectly acceptable. For instance, this little article - Hong Kong Markets favour a Scottish Pound - published last year on April 28th shows the money markets of the East giving a more favourable rate to the Scottish Pound than Sterling. It looks as if foreign markets think a Scottish Pound would be a safer bet than rUK Pound. 

I shall await the next development, scare story, bullsh*t with baited breath. I'm sure, just like buses, several will turn up at the same time. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Pulling The Wool - No Credit For Tweed.

Westminster and the Institute for Financial Studies (IFS) say there is, and will continue to be, a financial black hole in Scotland’s budget. They persist in telling us we are Too Poor, our economy is a basket case, and following independence we’d be poorer than a Developing Nation on its uppers, with a financial deficit in the billions. However, the IFS has apparently taken their data from those figures which are available from Westminster; figures that are created under the auspices of London’s government and London’s rules, as such they do not always, nor indeed by all appearances ever reflect the reality of Scotland’s financial standing because of certain “quirks” on how exports etc are recorded. Some of these issues I dealt with here Hidden Wealth.

Essentially, exports are credited to the UK nation that controls the port of departure. That’s right, it’s not about where they’re made, it is from where they are shipped.

The information in the above blog resulted in me being asked on Facebook what this meant for the iconic Harris Tweed Industry. It seemed appropriate to dig a bit.

My first stop was UK Registry of Companies to discover where much of the Harris Tweed industry was registered. This would tell us whether their profits and taxes could be attributed to Scottish income. The results were interesting and varied. Many of the smaller companies associated with the Harris Tweed Industry are indeed registered in Lewis, but the main mills where by far the majority of the textiles are produced brought a mixed bag of results.

I really enjoyed this trip into an iconic Scottish industry, and I learned much, such as the Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) was set up by Act of Parliament in 1993 to help protect and promote the industry, while maintaining standards within it. I was quite surprised to discover there are only three main mills within the industry, all based in the Outer Hebrides.

Shawbost is the largest mill and main producer of tweed. It is owned by Harris Tweed Hebrides Ltd and is registered in the Isle of Lewis. Interestingly, members of their board include one Ian Roper Taylor, of Vitol fame and a certain Brian Wilson, former UK Labour politician. Harris Tweed Hebrides board of directors.

The next and oldest operating mill (since 1909) belongs to the intriguingly named Harris Tweed Scotland Ltd. I say intriguingly from the viewpoint that it is actually registered as a company at Haincliffe Road, Ingrow, Keighly, West Yorkshire, BD21 5BU; Harris Tweed Scotland LTD. The company is owned by Mr Brian Haggas following a buy-out in 2006. It primarily produces tweed to be made into jackets, presumably in garment factories in the North East of England. These are then exported all over the world including sending an apparently small proportion of its finished garments back to the Islands to be sold there.

The third and smallest mill in Lewis involved in tweed production is the Carloway Mill. It’s an independent mill; however, I was unable to find any trace of registration on either of the Companies House or Company Check websites. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why this is so. In March of this year, they entered a joint venture with the large Chinese textile company Shandong Ruyi Technological Group Ltd. Companies not registered under their own names are often held by overseas investors through shell corporations. I’m not alleging this is the case here, but would welcome information to the contrary.

There is also a network of independent weavers within the industry who can work as contractors for any of the mills or sell their cloth freelance.

While the HTA would like you to think that the Hebrides are the centre of the exporting world for tweeds, as you will be misled by this HTA World Presence web-page, this is not strictly accurate. Indeed, all the fabric is created, dyed and woven there, but the vast majority of the product, and research indicates a substantial percentage of it, leaves the Islands by road haulage by Woody's Express Parcels and ferry for a depot in Inverness.

From Inverness I am reliably informed other haulage companies, namely DHL, UPS and FED EX take the fabric on the next step of the journey, to destinations such as East Midlands Airport (DHL, UPS), Newcastle Airport (FED EX) and all ports south. Very little of this Scottish iconic fabric actually leaves via a Scottish airport or dock. From this, I can only conclude that it doesn’t count in favour of Scottish exports and adds tonnage and financial gain to English exports, as bales of Harris Tweed exit via English ports.

What we have here is an iconic Scot’s product which has the appearance of being virtually deleted from the Scottish balance of payments ledger, while simultaneously accruing to England’s. To reiterate, as per UK export law, it is the port of exit that counts when it comes to registering overseas shipping, not the country of manufacture.

Under the weirdest of all situations one could actually have the finished garments, marked ‘Harris Tweed’ counted as a Scottish import, and worsening our balance of payments. This is because almost no ‘Harris Tweed’ garments are now manufactured in Scotland, so any sold here effectively have to be re-imported from the country of manufacture.

That you can play with the base fundamentals of an economy in such a fashion is very simple indeed. Especially when almost everyone relies upon the official figures from Westminster to obtain a consensus of agreement that Scotland might just be an economic basket case with a horrible balance of payments deficit, when the reverse may well indeed prove to be a much more accurate statement. The only real way to prove Scotland’s net worth would be to do as the USA apparently does with its states, and count the country of origin or state of origin of goods, but that might not be in vested interests with a referendum in the offing.

This is obviously something that happens with startling consistency where Scotland’s exports are concerned. It is agreed by those who have actually researched the figures that Scotland is nominally responsible for somewhere around 9% of UK GDP, this does not include oil which is treated separately, yet based upon air freight, with a similar number being expected across the board, Scotland is credited only for about 2% of UK export, by weight. Air Freight tonnage. The fact that the system is set up in such a way that practically all of Scotland’s manufacturing ends up exiting the British Isles not via a local airport or freight terminal, but one which, in Stornoway’s case, may be almost 700 miles away (Stornoway-London) is both detrimental to our economy and destructive to our environment. It is also a bit of an eye-opener when you discover Kent International Airport (where?) moved more tonnage in air freight (12,744 tonnes) than Edinburgh (8,933 tonnes) in the first half of 2013. In fact Manchester Airport shifted over twice (45,831) the cargo that the whole of Scotland moved (22,731).

The reality of this situation is that if Scotland produced exports of 9 billion pounds per year, then she would be being credited for 2 billion pounds per year, while the other 7 billion pounds per year will accrue to Westminster’s ledger, and no, they’re not hard numbers, they’re example figures.

This is a dreadful under-use of Scotland’s facilities and resources from all sorts of angles, including Green Issues, but that’s another blog for another time. Far more could and should be moved through these airports from an economical point of view. Local economies and employment would benefit enormously from this.

The important aspect I got from all of this is from London’s perspective, when you spread this “port of exit” requirement across all of Scotland’s exporting industries, whether it’s tweed, electronics or shortbread, they have created a wonderful statistical tool that ‘anyone’ can use to perpetuate the ‘too poor” case for the Scots’ economy and produce ‘believable’ statistical data that might encourage a ‘NO’ vote when perpetuated by the MSM in Scotland without proper back up research.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hidden Wealth.

It gets you that way. You find yourself in a long Facebook natter and suddenly you realise there is a fact which doesn't often get highlighted in this “debate” about Scotland’s constitutional future. Oh yes, the Unionists aren't slow to drag the “oil is volatile and will cause you no end of confusion” card, and sadly many, many people pick this one up and run with it. It defines and confines the financial deliberation within heavily bordered limits. And this is precisely where Westminster wants this discussion to be kept.

Yet, there is not so much an elephant in the room but a small herd of elephants in the room. These are all of the companies currently manufacturing and exporting from Scotland and/or selling goods to the people in Scotland, but are head-quartered in England.

Currently, the majority of goods manufactured, grown, distilled or created in Scotland are exported via ports and airports in England. All taxation receipts from the following items such as airport fees, freight charges, fuel sales, VAT, applicable export levies and associated profits from these goods are then allocated as English income at the Treasury. The exact figures are hard to break down as they appear to be intentionally difficult to search or find in any of the Westminster governmental sites. For an example of a typically Scottish product regularly exported, in 2012 Whisky exports topped £4 billion. Approximately seventy-five percent of this is exported via English ports and allocated to the Treasury as English exports and income. This is also true of beef and other farm produce grown in Scotland, yet exported via ports down south. This can only be viewed as profits and tax receipts which should be credited to Scotland lost in a system set up to confuse and obfuscate.

Then we have the interesting situation of companies that sell goods and services in Scotland, but are head-quartered south of the border. With very few exceptions, it is only chains and stores with head offices in Scotland that record profits and VAT as being income from Scotland. The majority of companies which operate central offices in England pay their taxes and are shown as making profit in England – despite it being hard earned wages which gave them those profits and VAT receipts at tills in Aberdeen or Kilbirnie or Haddington.

We all need to eat, furnish our homes and wear clothes (well most folks do!). And many of us enjoy our electronic goods or buy home improvement items – you get the picture. We go to our local supermarket, DIY store, favourite clothes shops or electrical store and pay for all those things that make our lives viable and comfortable. Except, very few of these stores have a head office in Scotland.

As a way of explanation, allow me use one chain to give a small example.

Sainsbury: They have 1,016 stores throughout mainland UK, 60 of those are in Scotland – according to 2012 figures. This is roughly 6%. Until March of this year they took £2,329 Million in VAT. Roughly 6% of that or £140 Million was taken in Scottish stores. Under the current arrangement, ALL of that money is allocated as English income to reflect where Sainsbury have their HQ.

Now, imagine in an independent Scotland, that portion of VAT generated by us busily getting on with our daily lives, equipping our bellies, families and homes, going directly to Holyrood to be spent as needed on those things that we have deemed as important to us and our society – whether it’s infrastructure or social care. Sounds great doesn't it, but it’s “only” £140 Million, I hear someone mumble. However, you need to extrapolate this small amount over every company presently operating in Scotland under the current set-up.

What we have is a pile of money heading to Westminster and not really finding its way back to help those who spent it in the first place. Not only that, because it isn’t shown as being generated within Scotland, it helps to reinforce the “Too Poor” aspect of the Unionists argument. They can throw the volatility of North Sea Oil in our faces every other day, but they deliberately miss the point of other important, yet hidden aspects of the Scottish economy (e.g. £500 million in road taxes with associated fuel duties) which isn’t being allowed to show up for us in the “Books”.

How easily they can transform Scotland’s vibrant economy, created and supported by her hard working population, from energetic to appear poor and perhaps slightly quaint and backward.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Westminster Cronies Al Qaeda ... You decide.


Something has been troubling me for some time; it did in 1979 before that referendum, it has again for more than a year. It crystalised not too long ago when the denizens of that inimical palace of Westminster labelled the tactics they would use in Scotland to secure a ‘No’ vote as ‘Project Fear’.

If we doubt Westminster and her allies are indeed inimical towards the Scots, we need only look to five quick definitions which can be uncovered with two minutes of browsing through almost any dictionary. 

Also, that Unionists are utelising a not-so-subtle form of terrorism against Scottish aspirations is becoming increasingly apparent as we begin coasting down the months towards the referendum in September 2014.
The only significant question to be asked is "why would we believe anything from such a source?". 



The online Cambridge dictionary was used for the definitions pasted below.

Project: a piece of planned work or an activity that is finished over a period of time and intended to achieve a particular aim.

Fear: an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen e.g., "Trembling with fear, she handed over the money to the gunman."

Terrorism: defined as ‘Threats of violent action for political purposes’

Terrorist: would be someone who uses violent action or threats of violent action for political purposes. 

Blackmail: the act of getting money from people or forcing them to do something by threatening to tell a secret of theirs or to harm them.

Accordingly, we have it clearly from the architects themselves. They describe their own work as ‘Project Fear’ and they’re proud of it, damned proud.

Consider the multitude of scare stories; from currency to oil; from the northern isles breaking away to ejection from the EU; from border controls to debt; the storming of Scotland’s airports by English forces to our inability to defend ourselves. Then consider and remember that each of the principle denizens of the belly of the beast, the main political leaders of Westminster and their puppets in Edinburgh, for surely they deserve no other title under these circumstances, have all stated that ‘of course, Scotland could be a successful independent country’.

These same political leaders have then gone on to bless "Project Fear". Perhaps not overtly or openly, but neither have they decried it, which at the least is tacit approval. And we all know the danger of mute inaction because as widely acknowledged; evil only wins when good folk don’t take a stand and speak out against it.

It’s also re-enforced by the fact that the threats and implied actions against the Scots aren't presently enacted against the Irish, who like us were also ‘engineered’ into this same union. It is not enacted, it would appear, simply because they've already left, though history tells us of  tactics utelised before they did.

It is said the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. We should have good cause to expect similar treatment to the Irish, though like the Irish, we might expect it to take three quarters of a century.

Project Fear is quite simply a piece of planned work that will be finished over a period of time and is intended to achieve a particular aim. In the eyes of its architects, it will secure a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum. Remembering of course, a referendum is a political event. ‘Project Fear’ is therefore decidedly an attempt to influence a political process through intimidation.

This leads to the fact that Project Fear is clearly an attempt by those pictured above to convince Scots that something dangerous, painful, or bad might, most likely will happen should they dare to vote ‘Yes’

Project Fear is therefore clearly state terrorism under this accepted interpretation. For like many political or religious extremists, it is carrying both the implied and overt threat of violent action for political purposes. What else can describe the almost 'hell on earth' which would be engendered in Scotland if every one of the dire utterances from, or on behalf of the Union were to play out after a successful independence vote.

It would clearly follow that the leaders of project fear are at worst terrorists under the literal meaning. It means those pictured above who might participate in such negative propaganda lie anywhere in the scope of this blog from real actual terrorists in the true Al Qaeda vein, to simply not very pleasant people; if one equates good people with pleasant people. If it were otherwise they’d surely be speaking with one voice and condemning ‘Project Fear’.

As to the role of the head of the state in all this? Surely a benevolent monarch should be decrying such tactics in ‘her’ land? In respect to the Queen, what will change, except perhaps Scotland’s financial contribution?

Finally, we have blackmail, for surely ‘Project Fear’ is blackmail, because it’s got every appearance of trying to force a particular course of action in order to avoid the threat of, or actual personal harm.

Personally I believe Scots to be a bit better than to submit to blackmail, terrorism, or other such attempts at coercion. 
In addition, I believe we’re overall a worthy, competent and conscientious folk more than capable of building our own home and living peacefully in the village of nations. 

Meantime, consider those above; the actions, words and deeds emanating from the London Parliament and its supporters, and decide for yourself if a no vote is a vote in support of terrorism, blackmail and fear?

There is no grey area, if you decide that’s what’s happening, a NO vote is simply a vote to support state sponsored terrorism and blackmail.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Is there pact to destroy the NHS?

I've had the opportunity to live in both the UK and US. In a previous life I spent a career in healthcare. Consequently, I have always kept an eye on this subject as I'm interested in it, and have watched England’s steady march to Privatisation for a decade and more.
The first issue is; why privatise?

No, really, why bother?

The universal government line is that it is:

1) ‘Necessary’

2) ‘Reduces costs’

3) ‘Fosters competition’.

The first two are obviously hokum; the last is probably undesirable in a health care scenario, unless folk just get the opportunity to go elsewhere, which could be satisfied by simply electing to go to another health board. It would be easy to make a statute to cover a right to change health boards. The cost would be no more than some legislation.

Let’s look at the first two for a minute, the hokum claims.

Well, I would deal with ‘Necessary’ first, except I've come up against an immediate issue; nobody is telling me Why it’s necessary, unless it circles around points two or three, in which case it’s irrelevant fluff; and fluff we should also be able to agree is hokum.

So, if reason one for privatisation is self evident ‘padding’ of hokum, and reason three can be fixed by statute that leaves reason two.

Reason two says it ‘reduces costs’, which is smoke and mirrors. Let’s say the State, and we’ll make it the entire UK as well as use easy numbers, has a hundred billion for health care. We’ll make it simple by abbreviating scenarios and not adjusting for inflation.

In 1973 the nation had a hundred billion to spend on health care. We were taxed a hundred billion to support it, we spent a hundred billion on it. We got what we paid for, more or less directly returned.

Now, fast forward forty years. At this point about a third, twenty to fifty percent depending on how you work the numbers, of that service is effectively privatised, from PPI to PFI contracts to farming out of services and people.

So, now we've got a hundred billion of our money going in and about sixty five billion returned directly in ‘services’

What has happened to the other thirty five billion? Well, ‘The City’ and ‘Wall Street’ like to see profits of thirty to forty percent; we’ll call it a third on average. Executive salaries in the private sector are generally higher, hourly wages generally lower, but about ten percent of company revenue is usually kept to repay banks and shareholders as well.

Of that thirty five billion, we’ll be generous; about twenty billion might come back in services which have been included as part of PFI/PPI agreements, e.g. laundry, security, some aspects of direct care services, building maintenance etc.

So, in 2013, we still put in a hundred billion, but we lost fifteen of it to the ‘privateers’ padding their treasure chests. Now you know how a lot of those new yachts I see every day get paid for. Luxury lifestyles being financed while your children or your grandparents go on waiting lists. In fact, at the time of writing, our £19,000 floating home is next to a $7,000,000 yacht – financed by the insurance side of the US health care industry. And let’s be clear, it is an Industry.

So, what inspired this blog, and why now?

The NHS has just announced it expects a thirty billion funding gap by 2020.

To meet that, Lady Williams is advocating charging for visits to doctor’s surgeries. They’re also proposing having pensioners pay. So-called “wealthier” pensioners, just because they might have worked all their lives and saved like crazy and have a pension other than the State’s, now get to buy that executive or banker’s new yacht. Yet, had those elderly squandered their money instead of saving, they’d be off the hook for the time being - until the financial threshold is eliminated.

Of interest are the comments made by NHS England’s information director, Tim Kelsey.

Here is the gist of what Mr. Kelsey said:

"We are about to run out of cash in a very serious fashion."

Followed by a revealing statement:

‘... the UK and US governments were currently working on a common standard of certification for health companies to make it easier for them to access both markets”.

As the Guardian article pointed out, critics of the government's health reforms say they were conceived as a "necessary prelude" to a trade agreement with the US.

He further stated:

"one of the things that we agreed with the US government which will be hopefully signing at the G8 meeting in November is that we want to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to get access to both the US and the UK market places” .

“To do that we want to have some common standards. We will be working on a standard of certification so that you can be in the digital hospital marketplace or the apps marketplace and you only need to sign up to one certification scheme."

Based upon his statement and those of others, US healthcare companies, in return for their millions poured into US election campaigns, want a return on those millions. They need fresh markets and fresh profits. The government and those who manage the NHS appear to be on the brink of devising a system which would enable the simple, painless integration of NHS services into private US health care systems. This is a very accomplished system that charges ever-increasing amounts of money in the form of monthly insurance payments from its users i.e. Patients.

The fundamental interpretation here is that these US companies have lobbied their ‘bought’ representatives to make access to the UK market a prerequisite of any future trade deal. Very quietly, the US is telling Westminster, ‘Privatise Your Healthcare’, and Westminster, London, like the subservient poodle it is, is agreeing.

The only way they (health care companies based in North America) can get that access, and therefore additional opportunities for profit, is through increased privatisation of the NHS. If that privatisation doesn't happen, then they’re only fighting for a bit of that existing thirty percent. They will then undercut each other, services will suffer, bankruptcies will follow, and our people will get hurt by both poorer care and unpaid bills.

Remember just because Blue Cross UK goes belly-up and leaves a medical wasteland in its wake, it doesn't mean Blue Cross USA has to pay. That’s the “beauty” of independent subsidiary companies.

Therefore, feel free to vote “NO” in 2014. Just be aware there is every likelihood one of the many things you’ll be voting “NO” to is the NHS. You have to remember, reduced public spending in England will result in a claw-back of our meagre pocket money under the Barnett Formula. The outcome of which can only mean reduced spending in Scotland.

The current cost of a quality ‘family healthcare plan, i.e. the kind of health care we currently take for granted, in the USA is creeping towards a thousand pounds per month. Can you afford that?

Furthermore, from personal experience, I know that even “comprehensive” cover doesn't truly ensure care in every eventuality that may become a health imperative in your life. Like many in the US, we were forced to sell everything we owned - from our home to my guitars - to pay for brain-scans and tests following a serious industrial accident.

As the UK will be copying the US health care model over the next several years, with both Labour and Conservative members pledging to ‘continue these reforms’, what you’re looking at is a return to the nineteen thirties. If you have any doubts about this, just check the list of Registered Members Interest in both Houses and see how many are intertwined with private healthcare companies. We need only look as far as Ms. Cherie Blair to find one very well-known example.

Then again if you do vote no, perhaps next time I break down on the ocean, maybe one of these new multi-million pound yachts will stop and help me. If it does, I’ll thank you for that ‘No’ vote. In reality, I’d expect it to do what the last one did when emergency struck. I’d expect it to ignore us, to keep on sailing, and pretend it didn't see the distress flare’s being let off or it didn't hear our anxious calls on the emergency radio channels.



You see, like us, if you don’t have health insurance in several years time, you’ll be able to expect that hospital ship to just maintain its current course and keep sailing on by.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

European Union or European Court of Human Rights - Choices.

This week I had a Twitter chat with an independence supporter which began following my posting of a link to the recent executions in Saudi Arabia, of seven men whose convictions were achieved by using torture. 

This led in turn to the Tories recent announcement that they'd love to dump the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) because - let's face it - Europe is a meddling pest etc. This conversation also then went on to include Tory interests into having secret courts in the name of "national security".


What did become evident was that many people equate the European Union in Brussels with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. You know the statement; we've heard many of our independence supporting friends use it: "I want independence, BUT I'm not sure about Europe!".

This is EXACTLY what Westminster wants you to do.

Mr.Cameron has promised some sort of "In/Out" referendum in regards to Europe in 2015. However, there is a confusion out there about what "Europe", and "which" Europe he may mean. 
They (Westminster) seem to mix the ECHR and the European Union in one sentence. To my mind they are attempting, and in many instances succeeding, to make them appear to be the one and the same organisation. 
Therefore will this vote in 2015 may be just a vote to remove the UK (or rUK) from the economic organisation of the EU, or will they confuse things further by including self removal from the ECHR? And once we (or rUK) choose to remove ourselves - what will be next on the rather strange agenda of Westminster? I'm not going say this is just a Conservative Party issue, as Labour aren't exactly making the kind of reassuring noises or clarifying this issue, as one would hope under the circumstances.

The European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, they're just the same, aren't they? They're both in Europe, they both affect and meddle in what happens in the UK, right?

Well, no; neither body has a lot to do with the other - in the way Westminster want you to believe, anyway.

The Court of Human Rights began its life under the Council of Europe in 1959; the Council of Europe [1] being founded by the Treaty of London in 1949, and signed by the United Kingdom and 9 other states.
This isn't some fang-dangle invention of Brussels. This was something which was born of World War II. Even Churchill mooted a "United States of Europe" as far back as 1946, and during a radio broadcast in 1943, he mentioned a Council of Europe.

The birth of the European Union was in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome [2]. It was from this basis the economic union of European nations grew, and to which Britain became a fully signed-up member in 1973 [3]What isn't clear in all this, is even "Europe", governed from Brussels, has to be held accountable to the human rights standards set in Strasbourg. Otherwise it would be case of the tail wagging the dog.

The need for Westminster to induce public confusion with these two organisations is very clear. This is all to do with stripping you of your human rights. And it will be done using lies, confabulation, sleight of hand and down-right bovine effluent. 

"But!" - I hear you cry, "Europe is interfering with everything, just look at that Abu Qatada!" Well, what about him? Everyone of us is entitled to human rights, are we not? It may well have worked fine for Mr Qatada, but it certainly didn't work for Saddam Hussein who appealed frantically to the ECHR to prevent the coalition troops from handing him over to the Iraqi interim government, stating he feared he would be executed [4]
You also have to recognise just how much the ECHR interferes with legal decisions made in Britain. Westminster wants you to think that UK courts can't take a breath without some European judge jumping on their backs. This is not so. The UK lost only 10 cases last year [5].

Westminster needs this confusion to continue in order for people to VOLUNTARILY give up their human rights. And once forfeited  how would we ever get them back? 

We can look on in horror just now as the rights of vulnerable, sick and disabled people are eroded by the changes in benefit entitlements, and currently there may be ways of dealing with this with help from Europe. There may even be ways of dealing with the fact that Westminster is trying very hard to introduce a law which can be retroactively applied [6]. Something that could never happen if it were included in a written constitution, similar to the USA.
A retroactive law could seem "benign". For instance, a local authority could decide to make a place that was free and legal to park illegal - and backdating it however long. You could, conceivably, receive a parking ticket for leaving your car there one day 3 months ago - when it was legal. Nice little income generator, but what if it were to be applied to other, more sinister areas? What if a government decides to increase income tax - then backdate to last year? Where would it end?

This situation of confusion over what constitutes Europe affects those uncertain voters in the independence referendum. It must be clear that the human rights issue is separate from the European membership issue. 

We need to be sure of what we are demanding from our political representatives. 

If we're not, it might just come back and bite us hard - in a Room 101 near you [7]


Further Reading:

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Wrong Message

Creation of a sterling-zone as trumpeted by the SNP is decidedly the wrong message.

Scotland needs to dump the pound faster than a drowning diver needs to dump his weight belt.

The recent downgrading to Sterling brings only one question, posed by the French almost a year ago, and that is, why has it not happened long, long before now?

In the last week I saw the value of my income plummet. For argument’s sake let’s say I get £725 a month. That’s what it was last month anyway, or last time I drew it out. Today they handed me £688. This was, they said, due to the fact the £ plummeted against the $ after the downgrade.

My account said £725 had been deposited, the bank gave me £688, there’s a problem when my bills are £700. The ends no longer meet in the middle. I’m now worse than broke.

Anyone not relying on foreign exchange rates may see it as a minor thing, but with pretty much everything made overseas these days it simply means, in Scotland, when the current supplies on the shelves run out, the new ones are going to cost more. We are all two months away from losing that real money.

In about ninety days, and much less for many items, that £725 a month in every pocket will soon become £688. It will still say £725 on the statement, so we’ll fool ourselves. But at the end of the day if it doesn’t buy anyone what £725 did a month ago, how can you argue it’s still £725?

Let’s invent a little scenario. You’re selling your car, you want £5,000, but you drove it this morning and had a wee fender-bender and slightly bent the chassis – but it still looks not too bad. Hey, it’s still your £5,000 car. It has a couple of dents here and there that weren’t there yesterday, but you've still got the same sticker on the window, £5,000 it proudly declares. Think you’ll ever get that now?

That dented car of yours is Sterling. These are just the first view visible dents. The difference is it has been ready for the knackers yard for years, the rot was just hidden under the shiny exterior, but any decent mechanic would walk away from it asking if you’re insane. MOT; No chance mate, but there’s a bloke in the next village who, for fifty quid like….

We’re now at the point where even the bloke in the next village won’t touch it.

For the UK and Sterling, it means this time it won’t recover.

Expect the pound to continue to devalue. After all, it has for over eighty years. The ability to devalue the pound and thereby steal our savings is the primary reason that Westminster didn't join the Euro.

We've all heard and seen the unrest in Greece; in many instances the United Kingdom’s press have given the Greek people short shrift in terms of sympathy. The Irish have been the media’s financial whipping boy. The Spanish, Portuguese and Italians have all been slated and derided by the papers. Whereas, for most of the UK’s self vaunted media, the Italian’s have always been good for a joke; the Spanish and Portuguese seem to me largely ignored.

It may take once-mighty Britannia a decade more to be in such a condition that Greece looks like a safe haven. It may only take a few months. The United Kingdom’s per capita and national debt burden is fast outstripping that of Greece. Don’t doubt it, Greece’s debt load stands at less than 70% of the United Kingdom as a percentage of GDP.

What about Italy, Spain and Portugal? They are likewise positioned with debt about 75% of the UK’s. Only Ireland, another favourite punching bag of the UK media, is actually worse. However, we’re entering the home stretch and the nag in green white and gold isn’t the favourite in this race anymore. With the finishing posts ahead, the cuddy in red white and blue is set to come thundering down the home stretch. That poor old Irish nag seems like it hasn't got a hope of staying in front.

Except this is a race to poverty, to national penury and isn’t a race anyone really wants to win, is it?

The reality of the situation is that no matter who is elected to Westminster, the average individual is going to get screwed.

Westminster can barely service its debts right now. If interest rates climbed just a little, say to the historical norms of five percent, then Germany’s old Weimar Republic where wheelbarrows were needed to carry the cash to buy a loaf of bread might look like a wonderful place to have lived. Our debt burden is already worse than that of the Weimar Republic.

So, why has the crash not already happened?

It has begun, but most people want to play the ostrich. Maybe if we stick our heads in the sand long enough, we might fool the lion and he won’t actually bite us on the behind. Sadly, the lion has the luxury to decide when the ideal time will be to bite us. The only thing we know is that his jaws will snap shut someday soon, and when it does out collective behookie is going to hurt like hell.

Social upheaval, no jobs, riots, deprivation and hunger are possibly the nicer parts of what lies ahead, if we don’t get our act together. Mr. Osborne’s current attitude of “it’ll be alright” and Westminster’s continual “Nothing to see here folks, move along” are even bigger lies than Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” declaration in 1938. Six years of “peace” broke out the following year in September. Chamberlain’s piece of paper had as much true worth as that printed by the Bank of England today.

Consider at the time of the collapse of the Weimar Republic, still in living memory for some, that one pound of sterling bought one pound of silver. At the time of writing the value of silver is £300 per pound. Where did the other £299 go?

It was neatly pochled by Westminster, through that cunning mechanism “inflation”.

Surely, we may think, the value of silver has just risen incredibly? No, it hasn't At that time five hundred pounds, sterling or silver, bought a modestly sized family home. Five hundred pounds of silver today will still buy that £150,000 home. And what about the £1 note from 1932? Well there is not a coin small enough in the treasury’s inventory that I could now trade it for. It is worth a fraction more than one old ha’penny. They have legally devalued that £1 to nothing viable in today’s currency; only in Westminster.

Remember, in the five centuries prior to World War One, inflation was by all comparisons, nonexistent.

The only way the United Kingdom is surviving today is by borrowing. Where do the banks get the money they lend to the government? Essentially, it’s invested savings. You put your extra cash (if you are one of the lucky folks to have any) in the bank to save. The bank loans it to the government at less than 2%, sometimes less than 1%. Inflation has swung from over 5% to less than 3% in the last seventeen months. That means your bank is loaning to your government at a guaranteed loss.

There have even been instances of late when some governments have been able to borrow money at negative interest rates. Although, not Westminster, they’re not “safe enough”. Effectively, the investment firms supplying that money have been willing to guarantee their investors i.e. you, an instant loss for the so-called safe keeping of your money. In other words, well managed economies are actually being paid to borrow your money.

The United Kingdom passed the point of no return about five years ago and has been hovering around there, barely surviving, making payments, but not cancelling debt.

The problem is those interest payments, those billions upon billions paid every year are our new hospitals, schools and our infrastructure. Our future.

Westminster is bankrupt, arguably it’s fiscally, morally, and intellectually bankrupt. Like the destitute old lord in the crumbling manor, it is time to sell the family silverware. Except, we are the only silverware Westminster has. Our savings, our pensions, our health service, our children’s education. Like any government in history, Westminster has only one option; its people and their pockets.

This fiscal tsunami will be released in the not too distant future.

Hopefully it won’t be released until after the 2014 referendum. If Scots vote YES, which appears to be the intelligent course of action, it could well be released with early. After all, the release of this tidal wave will only require a very modest 1.5% change in the interest rates, and we've all seen that happen on countless occasions in our adult lifetimes.

Any way you look at it, promoting a “Sterling Zone” is insanity incarnate.

The Scots Pound is already in circulation. We need to resurrect it as a world currency once more. As many economists have pointed out, it wouldn't be difficult. Let our money float, or tie it with other currencies, any currency - except Sterling.

Our choice is simple, since no nation in history has ever recovered from the UK’s debt load; we have to vote Yes to survive or we vote No for long term debt, poverty and bankruptcy.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is The Treaty of Union Already Dead?


Due to the renewed interest in Scotland's status of existence or not, recently dragged up by Governor General Moore et al, it seems there has been a resurgence in interest in an article I had published in Newsnet Scotland in July of 2011. As I'd never previously included it in the blog, I've decided that perhaps now would be a good time to do just that.

The question I posed at the time was: Is the Treaty of Union Already Dead?

The Treaty of Union 1707, we live every day of our lives with its effects – but should we?

Could we, if we choose, simply denounce it, has that already been done, or have events simply transpired to void it entirely? Are we at liberty, under international law, to simply “walk away’.

For almost all of us it consumes much of our waking time, consciously or otherwise as we struggle to pay the taxes and debts imposed by its after effects. It has done so for generations of Scots.

Our forebears fought and died because of it, through it, in support of it or against it.

Yet under international law It certainly appears void, if not simply revoked. It just seems there’s a distinct lack of willingness to test this by any relevant party.

In view of the above this article specifically does not advocate or focus on a single course of action; although it certainly uncovers several intriguing and interesting potentialities available to us Scots, should we choose. Law is about interpretation, what follows is one very reasonable such interpretation.

Our land and our nation has often been derided, pilloried and a comic joke because of it [this Union], mainly from within.

Even in the halls of power, that corrupt underbelly that we call Westminster, proven so in the courts of our lands, that place which is supposed to uphold our nation and care for it in this Union there is little respect demonstrated for Scotland.

There is an interesting and entertaining aspect to international law, it’s called the Vienna Convention, and it exists in a stratosphere of law that governs international treaties.

This article of law was adopted on May 23rd, 1969. It didn't exist in 1707, but it does claim jurisprudence over almost all international treaty and law since its ratification. And it has very definite retroactive implications.

If it had existed in 1706/1707, there would have been no Union Treaty as we know it. That is irrefutable.

The signatory states to the Vienna Convention agreed that international law and treaty law as defined by it would have jurisdiction over their own national laws. Basically if the UK [and thereby its constituent nations] signed up to it, they agreed to be bound by it.

It can be regarded as entertaining because the signatories to it, including the United Kingdom which ratified it on June 25th 1971, and implemented it on January 27th 1980, on the surface did not appear to fully understand the entire scope of their actions.

The UK and its constitutional law brigade certainly thought it may have covered its bases, yet there is a section or two in the Vienna Convention that indicates it may not have. The language is not categorically unambiguous, but the intent certainly appears clear.

We really should test it. At the very least it would prove interesting. 

Where the Vienna Convention specifically does not remove itself from treaties of a historical nature are when their principles are overtaken by new or ratified principles of recognized international law, or when they have been voided prior to inception and would be regarded as so being by evolving international law (article 64).

This aspect of the Vienna Convention specifically itemizes the following areas as voiding treaty agreements.

Article 49

Fraud

If a State has been induced to conclude a treaty by the fraudulent conduct of another negotiating State, the State may invoke the fraud as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty.

Article 50

Corruption of a representative of a State

If the expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty has been procured through the corruption of its representative directly or indirectly by another negotiating State, the State may invoke such corruption as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty.

Article 51

Coercion of a representative of a State

The expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty which has been procured by the coercion of its representative through acts or threats directed against him shall be without any legal effect.

Article 52

Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force

A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

A quick examination into the founding aspects around the Union Treaty is worthwhile – did it significantly contravene articles 49 through 52 of the Vienna Convention. Investigations and perusal of records show there is a relatively simple case to be made for contravention, not just of one the above, but potentially all of the above.

Any single contravention of the above articles would be more than valid enough reason to negate the Treaty of Union since inception.

It would certainly leave us with an entertaining constitutional conundrum.

Interestingly even article 14 of the Treaty of Union itself can be used as verification of corruption. Article 14 stating; “the Equivalent, granted £398,085 and 10 s sterling to Scotland to offset future liability towards the English national debt”. In essence as history records, it was detailed as being subsequently used as a means of compensation [bribery] for investors in the Darien Scheme, and Union supporters.

This sum noted above was only paid after signature. None of the above funds were recorded as being distributed to anyone who opposed the Treaty of Union, nor could they be given to “Scotland’s government” – it no longer existed. They are reported and acknowledged to have been distributed solely amongst those who worked for passage of the Union Treaty.

Direct bribery was also known to be a factor. £20,000 (£240,000 Scots) was dispatched to Scotland for distribution by the Earl of Glasgow. James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry, the Queen's Commissioner in Parliament, received £12,325, himself.

Now under Article 45

Loss of a right to invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty

A State may no longer invoke a ground for invalidating, terminating, withdrawing from or suspending the operation of a treaty under articles 46 to 50 or articles 60 and 62 if, after becoming aware of the facts:

(a) it shall have expressly agreed that the treaty is valid or remains in force or continues in operation, as the case may be; or

(b) it must by reason of its conduct be considered as having acquiesced in the validity of the treaty or in its maintenance in force or in operation, as the case may be.

It can be clearly seen these do not apply to Scotland – the civil unrest and popular (dis)Unity has been widespread since treaty inception, and, in its most basic form, absent an independent government it was unable to fall into the first category. Without an independent government, Scots could not expressly agree.

So much for the past, this is the present, and it’s within article 45[b] that past meets present. There was an interesting quirk in 1999 when Winnie Ewing made her famous statement.

Certainly Winnie was acting as a government representative – certainly she had full authority to make the address, just as certainly her words have never been officially disputed either by Westminster or Holyrood. Arguably just as certainly she served notice on Westminster that under 45b that Scotland did NOT acquiesce.

The actual words of Winnie Ewing have been widely acclaimed; "The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened."

Basically and effectively Ms. Ewing served notice on the Westminster government that the treaty of Union was ended.

The Scottish government had re-convened. It went undisputed. Treaties can be terminated by universal, bi-lateral or unilateral acts. They can also be terminated by the fundamental reason d’être of the treaty no longer being valid.

In 1999 a fundamental change took place within the Treaty of Union – there were again two parliaments.

The primary reason for the Union Treaty was to remove the dual parliamentary system. The Scots through their representative declared that their parliament was “re-convened” the English under international law in its most basic interpretation have no right of interference in the internal politics of another country.

Arguably, on 12th of May 1999 Ms. Ewing told our nation “if you want a Union – now go negotiate one” – perhaps that is just what Alex Salmond should do – declare the treaty of Union dead as of a set date [12th May 1999] based upon the facts, and request of the Scottish people the authority to renegotiate a treaty that is fair and reasonable towards Scotland – if such can be achieved. The actual official date of termination, and the end of all obligations under that ancient agreement could be June 24th 2014.

We should therefore invite England to the negotiating table. That would require a separate English parliament however.

Let them decline if they choose. It would also solve that pesky “West Lothian question”.

If the English do come to the negotiating table, and agreements are reached, then let the Scots vote on the new treaty, allowing terms can be arranged that the Scots might accept.

Perhaps we should simply take that “Independence” word right of the table. It is certainly appearing an option. The question then becomes do we devolve our government to Westminster again, and if so, what aspects?

Last but not least, and worthy as a footnote is an interesting Westminster quirk – Westminster now sees itself categorically as England’s parliament and Scotland’s overlord.

It views itself as a UK government of dominion, not of partners. It has demonstrated it would retain dominion.

If Westminster / the UK parliament had any other pretexts these are effectively dismissed by the list of countries with whom it can “do business”, conclude treaties etc.

Scotland is on that list, England is not. Northern Ireland is also on this list, but as Wales was taken by right of conquest it doesn't have to be. Wales is absent. The only discernible reason England would not be on that list is because Westminster views itself as England’s Parliament.

Although the UK Government’s website does list Scotland as a nation with which it can enter and execute treaties, it has none listed for review against our nation. Not the treaty of 1328 (Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton) recognising our nationhood “for all time coming” or the treaty of 1707 where we entered the Union of Parliaments.

The treaties recognising our borders are also conveniently absent, as is the existence of a treaty where the latest 6,000 miles of seabed was “grabbed by England” in the last decade – meaning under UN rules that act can also be construed as basically illegal – void.